Do We Have Useless Vestigial Organs?

Is evolution true? Did we come from monkeys? Is Genesis true? How old is the earth?

A common claim among those who believe that Darwinian evolution adequately explains life as we know it is that humans have a lot of leftover parts from our primitive ancestors. Whether it’s ‘junk DNA’ or vestigial organs, the idea is that our ancestors needed these parts for survival, but that we no longer need them. A list of such no-longer-needed body parts might include the following:

  • Appendix
  • Wisdom teeth
  • Tailbone (coccyx)
  • Body hair

…and so on. Below is a video by Answers in Genesis contributor Dr. David Menton, who is an anatomist. If one is going to believe that certain body parts have no function in modern humans, it makes sense to check that idea with people who specialize in anatomy. This video was made in response to a Vox video that says we have body parts that we don’t need. I post the video not because it answers all of the questions about such body parts, but because it shows that it’s easy to claim that we don’t need things like tailbones and much harder to back up the claim. Before you uncritically accept any claim (including my own), do a little homework. You might be surprised to find that there’s more to it than you first realized.

Darwinian Evolution: Science or a Belief System?

Is evolution true? Did we come from monkeys? Is Genesis true? How old is the earth?

I love science. I always have. I can’t resist clicking to news articles that talk about the discovery of a new species, or some tech advancement, or about the chemical makeup of my favorite soft drink. At the same time, I don’t always love discussions about science. The reason is simple: most people don’t think very well.

Evolution is a loaded word. It means a number of different things. One common use of the word suggests that all animals and humans ‘evolved’ from a common ancestor. I’ve long suggested that this isn’t a scientific conclusion, but a faith-based conclusion. I’ve seen no evidence to suggest otherwise…and I’ve looked. There are a lot of ideas, and a whole bunch of leaps in logic, but I see no actual, scientific evidence. In fact, the evidence I’ve seen points away from this kind of evolution.

In this video, Ray Comfort asks a bunch of folks who believe in evolution for one simple thing: a single bit of solid, scientific evidence that shows one kind of animal turning into another kind of animal. He makes the natural and reasonable distinction between adaptation (changes in a population to match environmental conditions) and speciation (where one kind of animal, over a long period of time, becomes another kind). It’s interesting to see the different reactions from those being asked. One man appears to get angry when his viewpoint is questioned. Some seem thoughtful.

One final note: Comfort somehow got PZ Myers to appear on camera. Myers is a very well-known biologist, and an outspoken critic of any idea that challenges or competes with Darwinism. I find his inclusion in this video very telling, especially since he doesn’t appear to have a good answer to the question.

Pastors Tackle “Age of the Earth”

Is Intelligent Design true? is evolution wrong? How old is the earth?

This short-ish video lays out part of the reason that I’m not a young-earther. Most of the young-earth folks I know simply don’t want to talk about this subject, pretending that it’s beneath them to even consider whether the earth is more than 6,000 years old. Leave your comments below.

Jurassic Park: Now with 33% Fewer Dinosaurs?

Are dinosaurs real? Is evolution true? How old is the earth? Is the earth 6000 years old?

Interesting: according to National Geographic, a controversial new theory could remove as many as one third of all dinosaur species from our encyclopedias. What’s the big idea? Simple: that young dinosaurs underwent dramatic physical changes as they matured. As the theory goes, because young dinos were dramatically different than their grown-up counterparts, it’s erroneously assumed that they were different species altogether.

Virtually all early fossil classification was done on the basis of morphology (physical characteristics). If a tadpole is a young frog, morphology is useless in establishing that fact. If, as this theory suggests, a young T-Rex looked dramatically different than an older T-Rex, we may have many fewer dinosaur species than we think we do.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on this one. I like dinosaurs.

The Antikythera Mechanism Decoded

Is the antikythera mechanism real? Ancient Greek clock?

I love a good mystery.

No, not the Agatha Christie kind…those have never really caught my attention. I mean the real mysteries of life: Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids, the Money Pit, and the rest. As a trivia nut, I’m as fascinated by what we don’t know as by what we do know.

One of the lesser-known mysteries is called the Antikythera Mechanism. It is, quite simply, the world’s oldest complex scientific calculator. Found in a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera and dated to between 150BC and 100BC, its purpose was unknown for over 100 years.

The video below shows professor Michael Edmunds of Cardiff University demonstrating his recreation of this famous artifact. It’s a calendar, or a time-based calculator, designed to show the positions of certain astronomical bodies like the moon and sun and the 5 then-known planets. The original architect may have been the Greek astronomer Hipparchus, whose theories are displayed in the lunar functions of the device. Recent evidence suggests that the concept may have originated in Corinth, and may have been the work of Archimedes.

Either way, it’s wicked awesome. Note that – as far as we knew – nothing this sophisticated had been made until the 1700s. One more mystery solved…but the one remains is the one that never goes away: what other kinds of awesome things have been lost that we still don’t know about?

You can read more about this amazing device on the Decoding the Heavens website.

Where Did Life Come From?

Does the Miller-Uray experiment prove evolution? Was primordial soup real? Is evolution true?

Here are three interesting quotes from recent articles on Space.com:

For the first time, satellite imagery reveals thick Martian salt deposits scattered across the planet’s southern surface…

Space.com

An ocean seasoned with the chemical ingredients of life may lie hidden beneath the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.

Space.com

A sniff test of water vapor spewing from Saturn’s moon Enceladus shows it is gushing with organic molecules…

Space.com

The common thread between the three articles? Abiogenesis. Simplified, it’s the idea that life on Earth emerged from chemicals alone. Many of us are familiar with the concept of ‘primordial soup’…the supposed chemical conditions that must have existed on prehistoric Earth for life to have arisen on its own.

We’ve been trying to figure out where life comes from for a long time. Aristotle wanted to know. Darwin and Pasteur wanted to know. Seems like everyone wants to know how life on Earth came to be.

Abiogenesis is an idea only. When I was in school (in the post-disco, pre-computer world) I was taught that Stanley Miller had figured it out. He hadn’t.

There are competing theories, of course…but no facts. I have my own theory. Some of you will scoff when you read it, suggesting that I’m a simpleton or a moron or a zealot. However: if you consider it one among many competing theories, I think it stands up fairly well to the scrutiny it deserves:

God did it.

No, really. That’s what I think. While there’s nothing wrong with wondering whether there’s a mechanistic explanation for the origin of life, there is something wrong with closing one eye in your search for truth. Many scientists are so committed to the idea that life arose on its own that they seem to be looking for evidence to back them up…rather than looking wherever the evidence takes them.

Genetic Humor?

Is evolution true? Did humor evolve?

Doesn’t the Discovery Channel have a proofreader?

I spent a few minutes reading an article there today, titled Ancient Humor: Raunch, Riddles and Religion (no longer available). I found it interesting, for the most part.

I have no problem with the idea that humanity’s sense of humor goes back tens of thousands of years, or that the appearance of humor seems to coincide with the appearance of religious artifacts. That’s all good. What bugs me are some of the stupid statements that supposedly intelligent people, writing for supposedly science-loving organizations, sometimes make.

Here’s the scenario: anthropologists love to study Australian aborigines, because they’ve apparently been culturally and genetically isolated from the rest of humanity for most of the last 35,000 years. When some anthropologists were hanging out with some aborigines during a thunderstorm, the scientists were thunderstruck that aborigines weren’t afraid of the noise. They seemed astounded that their subjects were able to laugh and make light of the storm.

Now for the stupidity:

The ability to be amused by life’s inevitable surprises goes back at least 35,000 years, Polimeni said, citing the isolated Australians’ genetic capacity for humor.

Really? Come on. Really? Their “genetic capacity for humor”? The idea is that humor is genetic, and that it developed in all humans before the aborigines became isolated. If it had developed later, they wouldn’t have a sense of humor. Since they find things funny, we can conclude that the human race developed the genes for humor prior to aboriginal isolation.

Have we become so naive that we all just read past this sort of garbage? Am the only one who gets riled up when supposedly smart people make stupid statements and expect the general public to agree? Is “it’s genetic” the only explanation that supposedly smart people can think of?

Come to think of it, maybe that is the only explanation they can come up with. Anything that falls outside a strict materialist perspective would simply be unacceptable…wouldn’t it?